In a time of terror for Europe’s monarchs—imprisoned, exiled, executed—Napoleon’s army marched toward Lisbon. Cornered, Prince Regent João had to make the most fraught decision of his life. Protected by the British Navy, he fled to Brazil with his entire family, including his deranged mother, most of the nobility, and the entire state apparatus. Until then, no European monarch had ever set foot in the Americas. Thousands made the voyage, but it was no luxury cruise. It took two months in cramped, decrepit ships. Lice infested some of the vessels, and noble women had to shave their hair and grease their bald heads with antiseptic sulfur. Vermin infested the food, and bacteria contaminated the drinking water. Sickness ran rampant. After landing in Brazil, Prince João liberated the colony from a trade monopoly with Portugal. As explorers mapped the burgeoning nation’s distant regions, the prince authorized the construction of roads, the founding of schools, and the creation of factories, raising Brazil to kingdom status in 1815. Meanwhile, Portugal was suffering the effects of abandonment, war, and famine. Never had the country lost so many people in so little time. Finally, after Napoleon’s fall and over a decade of misery, the Portuguese demanded the return of their king. João sailed back in tears in 1821, and the last chapter of colonial Brazil drew to a close, setting the stage for the strong, independent nation that we know today, changing the New World forever.
10th Edition Revised and Corrected
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I first heard about this book many months ago when I was visiting South America and met a Brazilian who had read the Portuguese version and shared several funny anecdotes from the book with me. I was fascinated by the fact that the nation of Brazil owes its creation and independence to the only ever relocation of a Royal Court to a Colony (Lisbon to Rio) in recorded history. When I discovered that an English version of this book was coming out, I was quick to preorder a copy.
Having nearly finished the book, I can honestly say that it is a great primer for anyone wanting to learn more about the nation of Brazil. The book is filled with interesting (and often hilarious) anecdotes about the years leading up to the relocation and the roughly 13 years the Royal Court spent in Rio de Janiero after the flight from Lisbon. I've especially enjoyed reading the first-hand accounts of the lives of people that lived in Rio at this time. The author has done a great job of tracking down...
Histories, well written and researched, can be informative, entertaining, and enlightening. Laurentino Gomes has accomplished this. As an historian I am grateful for this well-documented read. The presentation of the cultural impact the fleeing monarchy had on Brazil is most rewarding. Gomes humanizes this history and moves beyond the mere informative of who and how and into the world of the impact human choices have on the world. If there is any weakness to the work it is the lack of maps, contemporary or historical.
This is a book worth reading twice.
page turning....non-stop info and first hand reports of the other- worldly life of Portugal. Beautifully written and researched...leaves you wanting more....Gomes should be heaped with laurels
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